To many of us skiers, especially us back country and ski mountaineering folk, the Haute Route is on our radar. On skis, it is a week long traverse from Chamonix in France, to Zermat in Switzerland. On this journey a skier will be greeted with breath taking mountain landscapes, high-alpine terrain, spectacular descents, and beautiful touring across glaciers. A skier will also be faced with all the typical mountain challenges, navigation, weather, avalanches, while traveling in glaciated terrain. In addition to these challenges, a skier must be prepared with the skills for skinning, moving in crampons, skiing steep slopes, and transitioning between each element quickly and efficiently.
These four ladies are headed to Haute route, but before they go, a training day with MMG was in order. Our day began with a discussion on packing and quickly transitioned into skinning. After practicing with our ski’s skins we did some touring practicing our kick turns and walking in crampons. A discussion on avalanches preceded our transition into descent mode. The skins came off and boots were buckled tight for the hard fast snow. Following our exciting descent, the team practiced a few more transitions before a beacon search demonstration. At the end of the day our team had covered a lot. In the process we had a blast, got to see some great views, and even got some skiing in.
I hope you all have an amazing trip.
The Northern Presidential’s from the Summit
Kevin is a mountaineer. Africa, Europe, Mexico, North America. He has climbed around the world. Even though living in New York, Kevin hadn’t made it to Mt. Washington. It seems from the pictures that he was having a great time. All climbers of the North East are lucky to have such an awesome mountain within driving distance. As a training venue or objective itself. Mt. Washington is a real mountain and climbing it will make you a better climber. If mountaineering is something you may be interested in, come check out Mt. Washington.
We are in the Mountains Now
Cloud cover changing as a front moves through
Learning to climb is a process. At some point in any our journey comes a moment when the seed is planted and we decide to pursue climbing as a sport. We all start with a concept of what climbing is and what it takes to move up the mountain. We begin with the basics of movement, foot work and equipment. We climb a little with these skills and develop new skills along the way. If all goes well its a lot of fun and the cycle begins. The more we climb, the more we learn, the more we want to climb, and the more we climb.
Descending in soft snow.
Ian, Mark, and George have decided that climbing is something they want to pursue, and have begun climbing on there own. The three decided to come climbing with Mooney Mountian Guides to build on what they have learned with some formal training.
Self-arrest and hip belays.
Our day began with a discussion on essential gear. From there we headed to Willies Slide an excellent alpine training ground. We learned and practiced footwork, ice axe skills, and self arrest. After basking in the sun it was time to put our skills to the test and complete a technical ascent and decent of the slide. By the end of the day our team had covered a large range of mountaineering skills. We all enjoyed our time in the sun learning and climbing together.
Enjoying the climb.
Ian, Mark and George I hope to see all of you in the hills.
Willies slide in New Hanpshires Crawford Notch, is a popular area for learning the ropes of technical alpine mountaineering. Beginning with flat fool crampon skills, ice axe use, an and belay systems, and full exposure to mountain weather Amber had a true mountain experience. The days final lesson came to us as we topped out the slide, “sometimes in climbing, a little hard work yields a great reward.”
Amber, starting up a steep snow pitch.
Beta photo: The water ice head wall & technical crux of Willies Slide.
View nearing the top. Amber is in the bottom center of the photo.
Thank you Amber.
Nick. Doing what he is supposed to be doing. On a frozen alpine lake in the White Mountains
This week, Nick, a long time guest came back to New Hampshire for his annual Mt. Washington week. Each February for some time now Nick returns to Mt. Washington. Nick has climbed around the world and continues to set lofty climbing goals at home and abroad. Yet the one mountain he keeps coming back to is New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington. There must be something special about this place.
Taking a moment to enjoy the sun.
Nick does not spend the entire week on the mountain. In fact during the week, he only spends one day on the mountain. Instead Nick and I have set smaller goals to help prepare our bodies and minds for the challenges of Mt. Washington and mountains abroad.
Preparing for bigger summits, Nick climbing the steep water ice of New Hampshire.
“Its about the process” Nick often states. Each day out helps me prepare for what lies ahead. “The mountains provide us a unique perspective”. “You are where your supposed to be, doing what your supposed to be doing” are other sayings Nick seems to live by. One thing I am certain of, Nick loves the mountains, he loves the people he goes there with, and the summit is secondary to the process.
The big picture.
It is inspiring to spend time with a climber who’s ego does not interfere with the enjoyment of each moment. To spend time with a climber who elation for simply being where he is matches the elation reaching the summit. Every climber could learn from Nick. What is it that keeps us coming back to the hills anyhow? Is it the summit? Or is it the process of getting there?
Documenting one of the views his process affords him.
Thank you Nick for an amazing week in the hills. Good luck this weekend on Mt. Washington.
Mountaineering is a term that encompasses many skills that all come together and enable us to climb mountains. There are no set rules and the creative have a clear advantage. Part of getting creative is climbing rock with ice climbing equipment (mixed climbing), and being able to climb ice and rock simultaneously. In the mountains there is no taped routes, it is up to the climber to decipher a route to the top. This route may require these mixed climbing skills. Aubrey and I took to the ice, and rock, to train, climb and have a great time. After climbing eight different routes the sun was setting on an amazing day of mixed climbing.
Fat in the cave.
Rock and Ice
Thanks Aubry for a great day on the rock and ice.
Every once and a while we come across people and become fast friends. These four have known each other for some time and make it a point to travel and go on adventures together. Last year they decided to get into climbing. Of course, they learned that climbing together with friends is incredibly enjoyable. Plus, it gets us outside, keeps us healthy, and allows us to see some beautiful places. It was a pleasure to be a part of their latest adventure. I hope they continue to climb, or at the very least keep going on adventures.
Matt, on his way to the top.
Nick and Dave demonstrating textbook belaying.
One tool challenge.
Final challenge, climb out from under the roof.
Thank you all for an awesome day on the ice.
This past weekend Rodger and Steve, college roommates, came to New Hampshire to try their hand at ice climbing. Although one now lives in Colorado and the other in Virginia, the two make an effort to go on trips together a couple times a year.
Steve working a slab at Kinsman
Their adventure began at Kinsman Notch, a primer climbing area that typically has beautiful blue ice, even when other areas don’t. The guys climbed slabs, steep ice, thin ice and fat ice. Running the gambit of conditions, learning to read the ice like a book helping them climb more efficiently.
Many climbs to be had at Rumney
Day two it was time for Rumney, and its south facing cliffs perfect for a cold day. At this time of year, Rumney offers a variety of excellent climbs from the moderate, to the difficult. Rodger and Steve took multiple laps each on the steep ice employing the skills they learned the day before. After a full day of climbing, everyone went home happy to have had such a great weekend on the ice.
Rodger putting an ! on the weekend.
Thank you Steve & Rodger for a great weekend.
The group on the way up.
For many reasons, Mt. Washington is a sought after summit for many climbers and hikers. Its no surprise why; the tallest summit in the North East, the largest Alpine area in the east, and during winter it is home to “the worlds worst weather.” Our guides are no strangers to the mountain and its moods; it is this knowledge that helped a group of eight experience the mountain at full value.
Let the training begin.
We approached the mountain in the morning is relatively warm temperatures, and began hiking in our base layers. It seemed warm, with no wind to speak of, and a fresh coating of snow on the trees, it seemed like a winter wonderland. As our group moved higher, eventually breaking treelike, the mountain remained quiet. With temperatures around fifteen degrees F, we could comfortably adjust layers and eat our snacks.
The group now prepared to make a bid for the summit, we departed out resting spot and launched towards the top. The experience of the guides telling them the weather was not going to get any better, and in fact it would only get worse. The pace quickened. Once on the summit cone, the snow was waist deep and the westerly wind was a steady 45mph.
Proof of the top.
Elation was felt as we stepped on the summit. The hard work and training the day before had payed off. A few quick photos for proof, and we were headed down. The forecasts were correct. Within fifteen minutes the mountain showed us what its famous for. The 45mph winds, were now 55+mph blowing snow into without conditions. Needless to say we were no longer in our base layers. Our forms now looked more like medieval knights ready for battle. These layers kept us comfortable and warm as the group worked its way down. The experience of the MMG guides keeping everyone together, covered, and on track.
Once back a treelike, the summit group was buzzing with excitement over reaching the top and experiencing the mountains extreme weather. They learned that with the proper gear and guidance, together they achieved a lofty goal.
Congratulations to the summiteers on your achievement.
We hope to see you again.
Alex, Bob, and Phil
Its been full winter in the high hills of New England for over a month now. Not to say the ice has been fat the entire time, but the climbing has been amazing! When I found out that a long time friend of MMG couldn’t wait until January to swing his tools, I knew just were to take him … Huntington’s Ravine
Jerry – completing the steep, pitch one.
The snow has returned along with the ice to these high climbing areas, making route finding and decision making of upmost importance. Still we were able to pick the prize of the ravine, Pinnacle Gully. After safely negotiating around an ocean size snow slab at the base of the gully, we climbed bright blue water ice for a full 60 meters. The climbing felt like WI4 in the steep early season conditions. Early season “is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gunna get.” What we got was “full-on” alpine conditions: cascading snow that filled your pulled up hood, hard ice, cold hands, and wind. What could be better than that!
Jerry and I just topping out on Pinnacle Gully.
We negotiated our way up the rest of the gully, with the climbing taking us a little longer than expected due to the conditions. Still, Jerry and I were psyched to be climbing in such a beautiful place. We got to the cars just after sunset, finishing the easy part of the walk down with headlamps and in a snow squall. Only fitting for the time of year and size of our adventure.
Throughout our entire adventure, Jerry said repeatedly, ” don’t you just love this?” “Yeee-haww”, I replied in my best cowboy yell. Climbing these routes, or in these mountains is special. It shows us what we are capable of and our limitations. It humbles us and reminds us of the power of our planet. Every so often they allow us to pass through and return home with tales of adventure.
Thank you Jerry, for an amazing adventure.